In October 2020, India, South Africa and Kenya proposed a temporary waiver on provisions of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement due to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency. Waiver of and easing of TRIPS global trade regulations has now become the clarion call for civil society groups and social movements across the world to minimize the disparities between the rich and poor countries in their fight against COVID.
A group of civil society groups that included Amnesty International Australia, GetUp!, New South Wales Nurses and Midwives Association, Union Aid Abroad, Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network, Public Services International and The Humanism Project, today gathered outside the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Sydney to hand over more than 50,000 signatures in support of fair access for vaccines for all.
The Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is an international treaty which regulates intellectual property rights.
In October 2020, India, South Africa, Kenya and Eswatini proposed a temporary waiver on provisions of the TRIPS Agreement due to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency. This waiver would entail the removal of the hefty barriers to research, creation and supply, which are large obstacles to the ‘prevention, containment and treatment’ of COVID-19.
Tim O’Connor, Amnesty International Australia Campaigns Manager, said: “Amnesty International is calling on the Australian government to stop blocking the TRIPs waiver and not put big pharma ahead of people. Australia has a vital role to play in the equal access of vaccines, particularly in our region. We want Australia to be the good global citizen when it comes to promoting and defending human rights, especially in the time of COVID-19.”
Paul Oosting, GetUp National Director, said: “It’s abhorrent that Australia is one of twelve member states blocking this lifesaving proposal. Over 50,000 people have signed petitions to demand the Morrison Government stand with people and not profits for big pharmaceutical companies. The COVID-19 vaccine waiver is more than just intellectual property – it’s a matter of life and death.”
Dr Haroon Kasim, The Humanism Project Director said: “We urge the Australian government to recognise their human rights obligations, recognise the right to health and life for all, stop blocking a consensus decision on TRIPS waiver and support developing states to more readily protect themselves and their citizens from this raging pandemic. The right to health and life should be the most important consideration in these decisions.”
Representatives from APHEDA, NSW Nurses and Midwives Association and Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network also spoke at the event.